San Diego Open Mic Review: The South Park Abbey

On Wednesday nights, open mic at the South Park Abbey starts at 9:00pm. At 8:30pm, a sign-up sheet is set out on a table by the front door. First come, first serve. Hosts are either Amanda Cogan, or me (Joe Nafziger). We alternate weeks.

When I host, I kick things off with a few songs so that a) no one is forced to go first, and b) I get to practice playing publicly.

Each performer (musicians only) gets approximately 15 minutes to play. Tune up beforehand so you don’t eat up your time. Everyone usually plays three songs, sometimes four if the songs are shorter. This is generous compared to other open mics around San Diego, where you usually run into a two-and-done approach.

The Crowd

The open mic crowd at South Park Abbey can be hit or miss. Some nights, everyone is quiet and listening to performers. Other nights, there may be groups of people who are there just to hang out, watch sports and talk loudly.

I try to make this place as musician-friendly as possible, but keep in mind this is a bar/tavern first, and a place to play showcase live music, second. That means the owner keeps the majority of televisions on (no sound) during open mic.

This is good experience for playing in front of lukewarm crowds and working to win over listeners. If you’re good, people shut up and pay attention. If you suck, they’ll probably keep talking about—and watching—the ESPN Classic highlights of Jordan, in Game 6.

Note: Oddly enough, because of the way the bar is set up, you can watch TV while you sing and play. Try not to get distracted. Keep your eyes in contact with people who are watching and listening to you; makes your stage presence stronger.

The Location

The South Park Abbey sits at the corner of Fern + Grape. It’s a neighborhood brew-pub with an above-average food menu. On Wednesdays, Dave usually tends bar, and Brianna serves tables. They are super nice and always smiling.

There is a pool table in the back, and a jukebox that gets turned off during open mic, natch.

Please come by some Wednesday. Any an all musicianship levels welcome. This open mic has hosted everyone from members of the San Diego Symphony to 12-year-old phenoms to first-time performers.

Here are some random clips that I threw together:

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  1. Pingback: Local Songwriter Interview: Amanda Cogan | San Diego Songwriter

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